THERE THEY GO AGAIN…. Having tired of the old fear-mongering regarding health care reform, the Washington Times’ far-right editorial board has come up with a new line of attack.

In an editorial that ran over the weekend, the Times argues that the Baucus bill under consideration would punish physicians who use expensive medical treatments effectively. The editorial board insists that a doctors would have an incentive to “provide less care for his patients for fear of having his payments docked.” The conservative paper added that physicians will be pressured to “withhold care, and withhold care again, and then withhold it some more.”

The headline on the piece read, “Death Panels By Proxy.”

Karen Tumulty wasn’t impressed.

My question: Has anyone at the Washington Times actually talked to a doctor lately? Under the current system, lots and lots of people are showing up at physicians’ offices with no insurance at all. And do you know what these medical heroes are doing? By and large, they are treating them anyway. Doctors I have spoken to tell me that it is not at all unusual for them to be writing off 10%, or 20% or even more of the care they give because their patients simply can’t afford to pay their bills.

So now, the Washington Times would like us to believe that these very same doctors will suddenly start cutting their patients off, sending them out to die, simply to earn a little more money.

Yes, this provision is designed to encourage doctors to think a little more about what kind of treatment is most effective, and to cut back on the waste and overtreatment that experts say account for 30 cents out of every dollar that is spent on medical care in this country. But to call these “death panels by proxy” is simply fear-mongering.

What’s more, the Times is wrong when it suggests the Finance Committee bill puts no focus on quality. In fact, it gives doctors incentives they don’t have now, especially in the management of the chronic illnesses that have been such a factor in driving up health costs…. [It’s] not as sexy as “death panels by proxy.” But it does have the virtue of actually being true.

Given how the trajectory usually goes, the Times’ argument will be a big topic of discussion today on Fox News and talk radio. Keep Tumulty’s pushback in mind.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.